Japanese Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said on Tuesday he would resign after being forced to deny he was drunk at a G7 news conference, dealing a fresh blow to unpopular Prime Minister Taro Aso in an election year.
Aso asked his close ally Nakagawa to stay in his post on Monday, but pressure for the minister to resign emerged from within his own Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
This past weekend at the G7 Summit in Rome, Japan's Minister of Finance Soichi Nakagawa appeared drunk, reports Times Online. Watch this video of the minister's slurred performance:
While there have been calls to sack the minister, Nakagawa is blaming his composure on cold medicine as The Guardian reports:
Nakagawa - who is known to enjoy a drink - denied he was drunk when he addressed the Japanese press on Saturday. He instead blamed his bumbling and at times incomprehensible performance on an overdose of cold medicine.
Despite his denials, those who have seen footage of the press conference, repeated all day on Japanese TV, agree he had the glassy eyes and sweaty complexion of a man who had enjoyed a few glasses of Chianti too many courtesy of his Italian hosts.
"It is true that I didn't conduct myself properly, and I feel I must set the record straight," the 55-year-old Nakagawa told reporters in Tokyo.
Japan's Prime Minister, Taro Aso, has been battling recent disapproval and this latest stunt from his Finance Minister is just another setback. The Wall Street Journal explains:
Mr. Nakagawa's blunder comes as Mr. Aso's approval rating is dropping sharply, with one poll showing his support rate below 10%. In recent days, members of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party, including former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, have sharply criticized Mr. Aso in public.
Japan's biggest opposition Democratic Party of Japan seized the opportunity to corner the Aso Cabinet. Meanwhile, Mr. Nakagawa's allies remained cautious.